Small businesses, medium businesses and organizations are missing out. They don’t take advantage of free services that are critical to making their websites better. That’s a shame, because even the most humble business has free access to the same tools used in global enterprises. I’m going to explain how some of Googles’ basic tools can help you get more out of your website, whether you manage your own site, or somebody else is doing that for you.
Google Analytics, Search Console, and Data Studio.
Don’t worry! I’m not going to get into anything technical. I think it’s important to see the bigger picture first – what these services do for you, and why you should use them. It’s likely some of these connected to your website already, but chances are good you don’t get the value from them that you should. So, bear with me because first I want you to look at your site a different way.
Imagine your site as a nightclub, and you are the owner.
Congratulations, you’re the new owner of a new nightclub, in the busy entertainment section of town. You serve food , drinks and have live music. You have a gift shop that sells souvenirs and you even have a VIP club – people who sign up get special offers, advance tickets to shows and insider information.
You’ve put a lot of time and money into making the your place somewhere people want to go. Sounds a little like your website, doesn’t it?
You want to know how people are experiencing your place , what they are interested in and how your place looks from the outside. Of course , you think the place is great, and your friends will tell you that too.
But, you have to stay in the office, taking care of the business, and being a savvy owner, you know you can’t really get a feel for the place and your customers there.
You need unbiased information to help you make adjustments to your business. You need some help: some eyes and ears that can help you understand your clientele.
Google Analytics (GA) – Your bar manager.
First you get a bar manager, Gabby Altoona , silly name , so let’s just call her “G.A.” She keeps an eye on things and can tell you a lot about your customers. She has a good feel for how they are experiencing your place – how long they stay , where they’re from , what they are eating and drinking. She also knows which ones are interested in your VIP club , and which ones signed up.
Who is buying T-shirts? GA can tell you in detail. If you tell her to keep an eye on something (Custom Alerts) she can even give you a call if something unexpected happens, so you can check into it.
If you give her things you are really interested in (Goals) she can give you really juicy info on how your promotions are doing (Campaigns) and how they got to your place (Attribution, Channels and Social Media).
GA is great at what she does , but she has some shortfalls. First, although she has an eye for detail, she is kind of shy – Unless customers ask for something directly (your websites internal search – you do have search, right?), she doesn’t really know why they came in. Second , she’s so busy keeping track of people inside she never gets outside the club !
You’re going to need some more help to get some insight about how your club is doing from the outside.
Google Search Console (SC) – your outside connection.
You need the services of “the Webmeister” (Webmaster Tools). These days he just goes by “S.C.” (Search Console). SC never comes into the club, he likes to hang around outside and keep in touch with the “street.” He’s loyal to your place, and will tell you if you have problems with your building that might be a turnoff to prospects (HTML errors , missing pages, mobile issues).
So, you set SC up with a list of all the things your club has to offer (your site map), and he makes sure your club is known (Google Indexing). Pretty soon he can tell you what it is about your place that clicks with prospects and what doesn’t.
- He listens to people as they pass by and keeps track of what they are looking for (search queries).
- He knows how many people see your place (Impressions in search results).
- He can tell you which ones came into your place and which ones pass on by (Click through rate).
- He can figure out how you are doing getting the word out ( search result rank).
- He knows a lot about who is sending you customers (sites linking to you).
You want SC to work with GA , so you don’t have to listen to them both all the time (Integrate Search Console with Google Analytics). SC passes some basic info to GA on a daily basis , and she keeps you filled in. The “webmeister” is always there if you want a more details.
Now you have some information you can work with, that can help you make choices about your offerings (content) and you can tell if its working. This is great , but it is way more detail than you usually want.
Now , it so happens that you have some, not so silent, partners that have an interest in your club (stakeholders). They like to know what’s going on, see how things are progressing. You can’t just give them the detail reports from GA and SC. but you don’t want to spend all your time making reports.
Google Data Studio – The Flash
You want to impress them, so you hire the services of a man who only goes by the name of “The Flash”. “The Flash” talks directly to GA and SC , boils down the story and adds a little, well, flash.
This gives the investors what they need to know, and keeps you from having to do that work week after week. If something gets the investors attention, you can always go to GA and SC for the lowdown.
With these three employees you can do quite a lot to make your club successful! Later on, you may want to hire someone to find out more about your competition , but that’s gonna cost you and these folks work for free!